Expert calls for drop in suburban speed limits

SPEED limits in high pedestrian areas should be lowered to 30kmh, a road accident expert says.

David Healy made the call after wrapping up research that tried to determine if there was a "right mix" when it came to pedestrians and moving vehicles.

Mr Healy and fellow engineer Bruce Corben looked at a range of factors behind fatalities and injury accidents, including the age, fitness and stature of pedestrians, impact speeds and the design of the front of vehicles.

Mr Healy spoke with APN Newsdesk about the results after presenting the research findings at the 2015 Australasian Road Safety Conference on the Gold Coast recently.

He said children and the frail aged were more likely to die than fit young people if they were hit by cars, even if the vehicles were at slow speed.

Should the speed limit be dropped in suburban streets?

This poll ended on 31 October 2015.

Current Results

Yes - safety comes first


No - I have places I need to get to


It depends on the street


This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Mr Healy said vehicles with curved fronts caused fewer injuries than those with square noses, and the lower the speed the better the chance a walker had of surviving a run-in with a car.

Experts agree that a car travelling at 50kmh has a 10% risk of killing anyone it hits and the percentage rises as the speed increases.

Of Australia's 1156 road deaths last year, 152 of those killed were pedestrians.

Mr Healy said built-up areas like neighbourhood streets needed very low speed limits because of the high number of people who use the areas.

"If we're going to prevent death and injury amongst pedestrians we need to create environments to go very slowly and so if a conflict does happen you reduce the risk of the pedestrian being killed or seriously injured," Mr Healy said.

"In environments where you do have pedestrians you'd like to see 40kmh down and preferably, in the longer term, precincts of 30kmh.''

Mr Healy said town planners needed to design neighbourhood streets with simple speed deterrents like road elevations.

"You want the environment to encourage people to get out and about doing cycling, walking - you don't want to create a barrier down the middle of the road by virtue of aggressive driving," he said.

"So you actually create a space and environment in which people can live and it is not seen as a through-road for vehicles, which must progress slowly to get through it."


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